Our breath is foundational to our life energy.
Our life and physical energy depends on the oxygen we inhale, just as much life on our planet depends on the carbon dioxide we exhale.
Our life is related to the exchange of this physical energy.
In many languages, breath and spirit are the same word.
Our spirit energy is intrinsically related to our physical breath.
Our essence is related to the manifestation of our physical, living energy.
Quantum physics reveals the constant in all and through all is not a static, universal lego building block of an atom as Newton thought.
Rather, an atom is 99.999% dynamic energy amongst the 0.0001% sub-atomic particle matter. This dynamic energy – this relational movement of energy throughout all things – is the constant.
Our relational energy manifests in our communing – sharing our breath via communication, voice, conversation that connects us.
Breath is the foundation of our physical energy embodied, our spirit energy within, and our relational energy among.
The physical energy constituting us – Tapping into our breathing to unlock our physical power and potential.
The essential energy in us – Understanding the intrinsic relationship between our physical breath and spirit.
The relational energy among us – As pack animals, our interactions, conversations, and interactions of our dynamic, relational energy -the universal constant – creating generative, positive flow of relationship in and among.
Our breath matters.
Our energy matters.
How we move about.
How our consciousness moves within.
What and who we interact with among.
The energies we cultivate, consume, and convey.
The human condition is fundamentally an energetical communication event. How we interact with and convey our energies.
Our physical energies.
The energies of our spirit.
The relational energies of those around us.
Our increase in congruency, how we flow with the river waters, align with the current, is the fundamental flow of life.
Are we traveling in unison with the current,
Or are we fighting the flow, push the river in attempt to bend it to our contrived will?
A different angle as to how quarantine, pandemic precautions, and the like are fundamentally impacting and changing who we are and how we go about our business – it is literally impacting the exchange of energy in and among us.
We can not exchange spirit relational energy over a phone, text/email, or video call.
The vitriol spewed in our sociopolitical, cultural, and environmental climates. Our words carry power – the energy exchange. And the disconnect, alters our connection to our words; communication. And thusly alters their impact.
They highlight the disconnect.
And that disconnect can fuel us.
And that disconnect can restrict us.
Are we the lion?
Are we the gazelle?
Are we running towards something greater?
Something ahead of us?
Are we running from something behind us?
What is the driver of our run?
What is the engine pushing us onward?
Pulling us forward?
Is it a generative, life-giving beholden?
Is it an egoic, life-limiting idol?
Is it stepping into a truer sense of self, connection, and unity?
Is it a step further away from things undealt, a step behind an unattainable validation?
Honesty with ourself is key.
Congruency, alignment provides power.
If we are running towards something,
Use that as the driver pulling us forward,
Tapping into our physicality and breath,
Unlocking that power.
If we are running from something,
Acknowledge and use that as our push,
Fortifying our back as we drive ahead.
Link that power to our breathing and efforts.
That honesty brings you into alignment with the present moment.
Presence to our breath and power.
Sometimes we run like the gazelle – away from something behind us.
Sometimes we run like the lion – chasing after something ahead of us.
Neither is good nor bad. Our congruency with the moment, our honesty with ourselves is key.
Because if we act as though our breath and power comes from who we are as humans, yet run like the lion, our expectations are off and we can’t make it.
If we act as if we can run forever in a situation where we can’t, that incongruency is the problem.
If you are a lion, looking for the short game, then know that is what you are after.
If you are a lion, but looking to do the long game as a human, you’re in a pickle.
Know which game you are in. And be in that game.
If you know which game you are in, you will know what to expect. Your breath will work exactly how the game demands – your response to that is whether you know what game you are in.
If you are in the short game. Be in the short game. Embrace it.
Truth will set you free.
Congruency is what we are after.
Incongruency is the problem.
More on that later.
We have learned how and what (diaphragm) breathing can do for
Physiological and mechanical efficiency, output, and power,
Relating to our core abdominal muscles (specifically Internal Obliques),
Spinal alignment for stability and power (motion in the lateral and rotational planes),
Allowing for flowing range of motion and muscle efficiency to occur at our hips (decreasing the over-demand on our knees, feet/ankles),
Increasing our performance, speed, endurance, and resiliency (better metrics, healthier motion, injury prevention, resiliency).
But how do we actually tap into our breath, our core power?
We touched on it briefly, but we need to develop more of the
Tangible, actionable content,
Taking theory into practice –
Bringing the key smart principles out of high-end physical therapy health care
And placing it in our hands directly;
Cutting out the middle man (conventional healthcare model)
And the ticket/price for admission (pain and injury) that was required to gain access to quality care and quality health.
If you are looking for an insta-fix, widget-oriented magic bullet,
This isn’t your jam.
If looking to embrace the human condition,
If you are in it for the long play,
The ongoing ever-becoming,
The embracing of the Process of it all,
Then here are.
Now, how to reclaim and train your diaphragm and IO function, isolation, and power.
An exhale, through pursed lips, through a straw, or into a balloon engages the Internal Obliques (IO) to contract, grab a hold of your rib cage and pelvis to begin to do its job – establish position and posture.
It also symbiotically opposes your diaphragm. A forceful exhale engages your IO and aides in the relaxation and stretch of the diaphragm to establish the efficient and powerful dome shape for breathing and mechanical power/torque.
The (relative) resistance of the exhale engages the IO. A ‘WWWHHWWWW” sound should be produced versus an ‘Ahhhh’ or ‘Oooohhh’ sound. Otherwise, air could be expelled from passive recoil or through other muscle activity. A straw or balloon really dial this in and cue up the Internal Obliques.
You belly button should draw back towards your spine,
There should be a relative pull of your sternum downwards,
A rounding of your back,
A decompression at the ‘bra line’ region of your back.
Yes other muscles are part of the exhalation and core/trunk stability and power.
But the IO often gets lost in the mix, and needs to re-learn its job and responsibility. Your body needs to re-establish the call for IO to do its job.
Yes, core work is necessary and builds power. And should include the IO. But some muscle patterns, some motor programming can overlook engagement of the IO. Thus losing a stronghold on efficient position of the rib cage (and thoracic kyphosis) and pelvis, along with establishing efficient diaphragm contour and shape.
Other core muscle groups can not do the specific job of the IO. That is why we break it down from high-power core training to IO isolation for neuro-musculo-skeletal re-education.
We are retraining the quarterback to be the quarterback of the team – reintroducing it to its job – where it needs to be on the field – and its responsibilities – to drop back, read the defense, throw the ball, etc.
At the same time, with the isolation of the IO for up-training, we are also down-training other muscle that want to help out (with the best intentions) but can’t quite get the job done. We need to retrain the lineman to not be the quarterback. They are a better lineman than passer. And that introduces us to the concept of compensatory patterns. They can get the job done, but aren’t quite as good as the real deal.
A lineman can through the ball like a QB while playing catch on the sidelines. The mechanics may not look as smooth. The footwork, the arm motion may be off. The ball flutters in the air. But the ball gets from A to B.
A receiver can compensate for the QB as well. And even in a game. The mechanics may look a bit more smooth compared to the lineman’s. And the ball may travel in a tighter spiral, and even hit a moving target.
But they don’t compare to the skill level, precision, and competency of the QB. At some point, the lineman’s and receiver’s limitations can be exposed at a capacity far lower than that of the QB.
When talking muscle performance and compensatory patterns, that exposure of the compensatory muscles’ limitations are seen as restricted motion, too much motion, mistiming of muscle pattern firing, tightness, ache, pain, injury, etc.
They can ‘work well enough’ within a certain window for the time being. Less well when moved beyond those margins. And only for a certain period of time.
Hence, re-training the quarterback, our Internal Obliques.
Once fully and forcefully exhaled, pause at the bottom of the exhale – holding that tension. The pause affirms/reinforces the IO’s responsibility (activity) to provide physical stretch to the diaphragm, and provide input to the repositioning and control of the ribcage, T-spine kyphosis, and pelvis; with concurrent decompression of the thoracolumbar (‘bra line’) region.
Here’s the key for the subsequent inhale – The Whiskey Barrel Tension-Pressure.
While maintaining a level of that exhaled tension and position, inhale through your nose (even better to place tongue to the roof of your mouth – a maneuver to further cue in your diaphragm) and breathe into that tension.
This engages and retrains your diaphragm to be your primary muscle of respiration. Other muscles can help or take over (same football QB/lineman scenario). This helps to re-affirm and reclaim your breath as your power source via your diaphragm.
Your diaphragm can also act like a lineman for your trunk stability QB. Sometimes we can ask/teach the diaphragm to help hold the back (Often in cahoots with the hip flexor named psoas). We can see this when we breathe in and/or run faster and faster and feel/watch our backs extend/straighten and lose some lung capacity.
This type of breathing dials in the QB for both breathing and stability.
Keeping the rounded position of the Thoracic spine, decompressed bra line, and a level of the downward position of the sternum allows for the diaphragm to expand the ribs in the back – underneath and between your shoulder blades – loading the posterior region of the ribs.
This magnificent act gains access to parts of the lungs that don’t always see action, increasing gas exchange –
It unlocks a key player in creating internal thoracic and abdominal pressure to load the ribs and abdominal muscle wall for torque and power and stability output.
It keeps compensatory muscle patterns like hip flexors named psoas, back muscles like paraspinals, quadratus lumborum, upper trapezius, and lat dorsi from trying to feign stability or breathing mechanics.
Same with back extension. that is a trick of diaphragm trying to be back stability and compensatory patterns in breathing. it actually loses lung capacity for gas exchange and fueling of muscle and loses mechanical power.
It retrains the diaphragm to dominate at the breathing game (yes, other muscles of respiration are involved) and retrains the diaphragm to not grab a hold of the back and try to feign stability. That isn’t its job.
That inhale with all of the aforementioned ongoings increases intra-abdominal pressure. There is nowhere for that pressure to go but outward – right into the abdominal wall. That pressure engages the tension of the totality of the abdominal muscle group (and pelvic floor – that is part of core stability and hip power after all).
Once inhaled, experiencing all of the above positioning, tensions, and neuro-musculo-skeletal re-education, exhale again, through your mouth with the “WWWWHHWWW” sound, blowing out candles that are across the room, through a straw, balloon…
All in efforts to further stretch that diaphragm to regain its dome shape, rib, spine, and pelvis position, engaging the IO as the QB, the keystone of it all –
To then inhale, keeping said position, expanding posterior rib position, lungs, increasing intra-thoracic pressure, intra-abdominal pressure, engaging the whole abdominal muscle wall.
3 or 4 breaths (with a key pause for 3-5 seconds at the bottom of each inhale)
for 3-4 sets.
Neuroplastic retraining of muscle pattern selection in the cortical matter.
Foundation of stability, power, centering – our breath.
Our spirit, our physicality, our relational essence –
Because as much as we are about running,
It is about far more than just running.
Next up –
More on the Lion,
The Gazelle, and
The noisy classroom modifications for your student Internal Obliques and Diaphragm.
© Dr Adam Fujita